Too Close For Comfort

Coming home after a loss to top-ranked Illinois on Saturday, the Ducks wanted a game where everyone could play and everyone could feel good. That was about as far from Tuesday's game as possible. The Oregon men played sloppy but beat Bethune-Cookman 73-65 in a game that was much closer than it probably should have been.

"We lost to Illinois and we almost had a snowball effect with this team," Oregon's Malik Hairston said.

The game with the Illini might have been fresh in the minds of Duck players but it wasn't evident in the first two minutes of the game.

Oregon (5-1) quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead behind some transition buckets and a three from Aaron Brooks. That was the end of Oregon's dominance, however.

Bethune-Cookman (3-4), who was picked to finish eighth in their conference, worked their way back into the game. An O'Neal Carter three pointer from the left side capped a 16-4 Wildcat run and put them up two at 16-14 with 14:07 left. Oregon was struggling and the Wildcats were hot.

"We kind of just let up on them and let them get back in the game," Oregon Center Ian Crosswhite said. "Some people slowed down a little and got a little complacent and I take that upon myself. As a leader of this team I have to make sure everyone is going and stays going."

The game went back and forth for a few minutes before a Bryce Taylor fast break dunk put the Ducks up for good with 10:15 left. Bethune-Cookman didn't give up, though. They cut the Duck lead to one once again on a Diondre Larmond three pointer with just under seven minutes left. Larmond led all Wildcat scorers with 17.

Oregon was up eight when the first half came to a close but there was a buzz in Mac Court. Could Oregon lose to Bethune-Cookman?

The answer, of course, was no, but boy did they make it interesting.

After a quick four point Wildcat burst to open the half, the Ducks went on a run of their own. A 12-2 spurt, led by nine Bryce Taylor points bumped the Duck lead up to 14 at 50-36. This was what fans came into the game expecting.

"I didn't play well in the first half so I came out determined in the second half to get into the flow of the offense," Taylor said. He led all scorers with 18 points on 7-10 shooting.

Bethune again cut the Duck lead to two points with 4:43 left but key shots by the two freshmen, Taylor and Hairston, led the Ducks to victory.

In a game where Oregon fumbled a lot of passes, made some costly mistakes and went 5-14 from long range, they still did some things well.

After a rough game against Illinois, Ian Crosswhite came out and went 5-9 from the floor for 15 points and pulled down 10 boards.

The Ducks did block seven shots, three each for Mitch Platt and Crosswhite. That's a new career high for Platt and ties Crosswhite's career mark.

Oregon will face a tougher task on Saturday, though where they will need all of the cogs in the machine working. Ray Lopes' Fresno State squad is young but very talented.

"We're going to have to play a lot better basketball than this to go down and take on Fresno State," Kent said.

First, though, the Ducks will get some rest, their first since before finals week.

"It's a good thing they have a day off tomorrow because I would probably run them like heck," Kent said.

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